Monthly Archives: January 2014

This Week in TV – 25th – 31st January

Following on from a week that saw the National Television Awards bring victory for Ant & Dec, Corrie and Doctor Who – but also possibly a diminishment in I Can’t Sing!’s ticket sales – here’s what we have to look forward to over the next seven days.

Saturday 25th January

Celebrity Big Brother

Channel 5, 9:30pm'Celebrity Big Brother' - Channel 5, 9:30pm

The final is looming, and tonight we will see the repercussions of Linda’s eviction. 

She may have felt the wrath and been bombarded by the boos of the public but I was quite surprised that Linda Nolan (pictured) was evicted from the Celebrity Big Brother house last night. Yes, she was interfering, a nit-picker, bitchy and perhaps should have let sleeping dogs lie sometimes but I suppose I did sort of like her. But then maybe that’s just because she’s a Nolan. And I can’t bring myself to hate a Nolan.

Anyway, so, who do I think will win? Well if I had to predict the top three (I don’t, but I will anyway), I’d have to go for:

FIRST – Ollie

SECOND – Sam

THIRD – Jim

I would never have placed Jim even in the final at the beginning of the series but I do believe that, despite his questionable opinions and past routines, he’s come across well during this series. Well, sometimes he has anyway. It’s often the case that the quiet ones shine in the end, though, so that’s why I’ve placed Ollie and Sam in the top two. Whether that will be the case on the night, however, remains to be seen.

Also today: Jenny Eclair, Austin Healy and Una Foden are just some of the stars appearing in Splash! (ITV, 6:45pm); and Robert Lindsay, Rufus Hound, Tinie Tempah, Seann Walsh and Sam Bailey pull up a pew for The Jonathan Ross Show (ITV, 9:30pm).

Sunday 26th January

The Jump

Channel 4, 8:00pm

Bearing in mind the money that has been invested in it, it’s little surprise that Channel 4 is really plugging new reality series, The Jump. And so they should too because, actually, it looks really  rather good.

Davina McCall and The Last Leg’s Alex Brooker are at'The Jump' - Channel 4, 8:00pm the helm of this show, which sees celebrities trained in Winter Olympic disciplines – from Skeleton to Bobsleigh, speed skating to slalom and, of course, the dreaded ski jump. However, the competitors will only have to face the eponymous jump if they find themselves in the bottom two as a result of their performance in that day’s challenge. So that’s quite an incentive to do well!

Taking part over the next eight nights will be: Richie Neville, Nicky Clarke, Marcus Brigstocke, Melinda Messenger, Sir Steve Redgrave, Sinitta, Laura Hamilton, Amy Childs, Anthea Turner, Darren Gough, Kimberley Wyatt, and Henry Conway. They will be trained by Olympians, Graham Bell, Amy Williams and the legend that is Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards. Should be fun!

Also today: 2012 film Mirror Mirror (Channel 4, 6:00pm); the remaining nine battle it out in Dancing on Ice (ITV, 6:15pm); Brian McFadden, Diane Parish and their families are on All Star Family Fortunes (ITV, 7:45pm); Dragon’s Den returns (BBC2, 9:00pm); and there’s one last Celebrity Big Brother Eviction ahead of Wednesday’s final (Channel 5, 9:00pm).

Monday 27th January

Britain’s Great War 

BBC1, 9:00pm

Beginning the BBC’s ambitious four year project to mark the centenary of World War One, Britain’s'Britain's Great War' - BBC1, 9:00pm Great War sees Jeremy Paxman (clean-shaven at the time of filming) explore how the War helped shape modern Britain.

This first episode begins by looking at the early stages of the War, from the incredulity of the nation to the mass recruitment of soldiers. Jeremy tells of the fear that gripped the nation, as spies were suspected to be everywhere and people lived in constant terror of their homes being attacked – which of course began to happen before long.

Jeremy also meets a 105-year-old eyewitness to the bombing of Hartlepool as she reveals what she thought and felt at that moment.

Also today: Daytime series Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is (BBC1, 4:30pm) and Coach Trip (Channel 4, 5:30pm) return; Police Interceptors (Channel 5, 8:00pm) and Food & Drink (BBC2, 8:30pm) are back; The Many Faces of Dick Emery is on BBC2 at 9:00pm; US sitcom Dads comes to ITV2 (9:30pm); and documentary series Three Wives, One Husband: Married to the Mormons begins on Channel 4 (10:00pm).

Tuesday 28th January

Celebrity Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

ITV, 8:00pm

Who remembers last year when Chris Tarrant announced that Who Wants to be a Millionaire? was'Celebrity Who Wants to be a Millionaire?' - ITV, 8:00pm ending? Apparently he and ITV had mutually agreed to finish the show, yet here it still is with the  first of two one-off specials – the second of which will air next Tuesday.

The first celebrity pairs to take to the hotseats are Russell Kane and Gloria Hunniford, Frank Skinner and Adrian Chiles, and Alexandra Burke and David Emanuel (who, incidentally, is opening the newly-refurbished Bonmarché store in Sunderland next Thursday. Just thought I’d mention it).

The charities being represented are: mental health organisation, Rethink; The Caron Keating Foundation; aid agency, CAFOD; Breast Cancer Care; and Macmillan Cancer Care Support.

Also today: Children’s Emergency Rescue (BBC2, 8:00pm); Inside the Animal Mind (BBC2, 9:00pm); and The Zoo Next Door (BBC1, 10:35pm).

Wednesday 29th January

Outnumbered

BBC1, 9:00pm

Personally, I thought that Outnumbered stopped being funny after the second run but it has proved'Outnumbered' - BBC1, 9:00pm popular enough to still be here for its fifth, and final, series.

As we rejoin the Brockmans, Sue is struggling to juggle her new office job with her home life, Jake is taking driving lessons, (the now very tall) Ben has been cast in the school musical, and Karen has joined secondary school, and clashes with just about everyone – teachers and fellow pupils alike.

It really is interesting to see how, with each series, Daniel Roche (Ben) and Romona Marquez (Karen) have grown up. And how much more handsome Tyger Drew-Honey has become.

Anyway, as it’s the final series, I might tune in. After all, it’s a few years since I last saw the Brockmans and it’ll be nice to catch up.

Also today: The Restaurant Man (BBC2, 8:00pm); and the Celebrity Big Brother Final (Channel 5, 9:00pm).

Thursday 30th January

BodyShockers: My Tattoo Hell 

Channel 4, 10:00pm

In this series, Katie Piper (pictured) meets people who have undergone or are planning to undergo major body  alterations, finding out their motives for and feelings about their'Bodyshockers' - Channel 4, 10:00pm decisions.

The first episode sees the model talk to a variety of people who have had tattoos, but now regret them. Take Grant, who has a tattoo on his eyelid and is about to undergo a painful and high-risk procedure to get it removed using a laser. Then there’s Merlisa, who wants a huge tattoo on her chest removed, and Dominic, who got his boyfriend’s name tattooed on his neck, only for them to break up three days later.

But Katie also meets some people who don’t regret getting tattoos. Matthew is inked from head to toe, with his penis even tattooed bright blue, as a sign of support for Birmingham City. Now that’s dedication!

Also today: One-off documentary Dan Snow’s History of the Winter Olympics (BBC2, 9:00pm); Matthew Kelly (who isn’t the Matthew from BodyShockers, I hasten to add) and Janet Street-Porter guest-star in Benidorm (ITV, 9:00pm); The Truth About Your Dog’s Food (Channel 5, 9:00pm), which needs little explanation; Suits returns (Dave, 9:00pm); and documentary Kids Who Kill (Channel 5, 10:00pm) – yet another programme with a very blunt, self-explanatory title.

Friday 31st January

The Last Leg

Channel 4, 10:00pm

Adam Hills, Josh Widdicombe and Alex Brooker return with their review of the past seven days’ events.

This show has done exceptionally well, it should be noted. Bearing in mind it started out merely as a light-hearted, nightly review of the 2012 Paralympics, it is now a very popular topical series, which has helped boost the profiles of its three presenters, so much so that Adam Hills won Best Comedy Breakthrough Artist at the British Comedy Awards last year and is now the host of Celebrity Fifteen to One, four new episodes of which will air later this year. Josh also released his debut stand-up DVD last year while Alex has fronted his own documentary on body image and is, of course, co-host of The Jump.

As always, the trio will be joined by a different celebrity guest each week and viewers can get involved with their #IsItOk questions. For example, #IsItOk that Justin Bieber is acting like a total dick?

A nice little Last Leg reference for fans of the show there.

Also today: Ice Road Truckers returns (Channel 5, 8:00pm); Michael Ball, Caroline Quentin and Henning Wehn attempt to have their pet hates banished to Room 101 (BBC1, 8:30pm); Martin Kemp is on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories (ITV, 9:00pm); Ben Fogle: New Lives in the Wild begins (Channel 5, 9:00pm); and Julianne Moore, Matthew McConaughey, Sheryl Crow and Alan Davies are on The Graham Norton Show (BBC1, 10:35pm).

Are you particularly looking forward to any of these shows or is there something else from the world of TV which you want to have your say about? Feel free to comment below or tweet me –@UKTVReviewer.

Image credits: Celebrity Big Brother – Thanks to Five; The Jump – Thanks to Channel 4 and Todd Antony; Britain at War – Thanks to Dave Williams, ©BBC; Celebrity Who Wants to be a Millionaire? – Thanks to ITV and Victory Television; Outnumbered – Thanks to BBC and Collin Hutton, ©Hat Trick; BodyShockers – Thanks to Channel 4 and Ray Burmiston.

‘The National Television Awards’: The Winners

It was the biggest night in showbiz as the cream of the crop of British television took to London’s O2 Arena to be recognised for their achievements. Here’s a full list of all of the winners:

Best Factual Programme

Paul O’Grady For the Love of Dogs beat off stiff competition from Top Gear, An Idiot Abroad and The Great British Bake Off to be named Best Factual Programme of 2013. Paul thanked the ‘remarkable’ team behind the show and gave a special mention to all of the cats and dogs charities in the UK.

Best Entertainment Programme

Well let’s face it, there was a 50% chance of Ant & Dec winning, as both Saturday Night Takeaway and I’m a Celebrity were nominated in this category, and in the end it was the latter that won, despite the hugely popular Celebrity Juice and The Graham Norton Show trying to get in its way. In the absence of Ant & Dec, King of the Jungle, Kian Egan delivered the acceptance speech, thanking everyone who watched the show and voted.

Best Documentary Series

Penguins: Spy in the Huddle, Inside Death Row With Trevor McDonald and Paul O’Grady’s Working Britain were all nominated, but it was the Educating Yorkshire team who took the award, with thanks going to the production team and the viewers. And let’s just forget one of the teachers putting poor Musharaf on the spot and making him speak, creating a potentially awkward moment if his stammer returned, shall we..?

Best Newcomer

There were candidates from all four of the big soaps, but in the end it was EastEndersKahli Best (Dexter Hartman) who won. He opted to thank God and his fellow cast members before wishing everyone a happy 2014.

Best Drama Performance

Considering it was his last year in the Tardis last year, it was little surprise that Matt Smith won the accolade of Best Drama Performance. As he was performing in the West End during the ceremony, Doctor Who chief, Steven Moffat and current companion, Jenna Coleman picked up the award. Moffat congratulated Smith on managing to step out of David Tennant’s shadow and excel in his own right.

Best Daytime Programme

Philip Schofield thanked the This Morning family and viewers when the show beat The Chase, Pointless and The Jeremy Kyle Show to be named Best Daytime Programme. This is the fourth year in a row that This Morning has won a National Television Award – and well deserved it is too!

Best Comedy Programme

In a huge ‘Feck you’ to its detractors, ultimate Marmite sitcom Mrs Brown’s Boys beat Miranda, Derek and The Big Bang Theory to become Best Comedy Programme. As well as plugging Mrs Brown Da Movie (in cinemas June 26th, boys and girls!), the show’s writer and star, Brendan O’Carroll also thanked the fans, the crew and his extensive family and friends, most of whom star alongside him in the programme.

Best Serial Drama Performance

Who didn’t see this coming? Just two days after Hayley’s highly emotional exit from Coronation Street in the high-profile assisted suicide storyline, actress Julie Hesmondhalgh won this award for her portrayal of the character. She of course gave credit to her friends at Corrie but also showered co-star David Neilson, who also joined her onstage, in adoration. Farewell Hayley!

Best TV Detective

The absent Benedict Cumberbatch was the recipient of this new award, for his portrayal of the eponymous Sherlock. He saw off competition from Suranne Jones, Bradley Walsh, Idris Elba, David Tennant and Olivia Colman – who I voted for, incidentally. I still love Benedict though, of course.

Best Entertainment TV Presenter

I think that this was the toughest category of the night: Graham Norton, Alan Carr, Dermot O’Leary and Keith Lemon were all up for the award. But so were Ant & Dec. So they won it. Having arrived at the ceremony just ten minutes beforehand, the pair picked up their thirteenth Best Entertainment Presenter award, claiming, ‘We’ll keep coming if you keep voting.’ Ooh er, missus.

Best Drama Programme

Doctor Who, Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife and Broadchurch: all hugely popular dramas, but only one could be the winner – and it was…Doctor Who! ‘Fifty years and still going strong’ are the words that Jenna Coleman chose when she picked up the award, before thanking “Moff” and Matt Smith.

Best Serial Drama

As expected, the award went to Coronation Street. Now, I have to admit that I’m firmly team Emmerdale, so was rooting for them, but I knew deep down that it wasn’t going to happen. There has been some big drama at Corrie this year – both on- and off-screen – and so it was sort of inevitable that they would take the title. Executive producer Stuart Blackburn opted to thank the show’s stars past, present and future.

Landmark Award

Philip Schofield presented this special award to Ant & Dec, who this year celebrate 25 years in showbusiness. Lost for words, Ant thanked Dec, as well as HRH The Prince of Wales, their mams and the audience. Oh, and he also took a selfie of him, Dec and the crowd. How very 2014!

Best Talent Programme

This is the category that really could have been anyone’s. Except Dancing on Ice’s. And The Voice’s. Alas, however, the award went to Strictly Come Dancing – further confirmation that Simon Cowell is losing his grip on British talent shows. Tess Daly delivered the acceptance speech, giving thanks to ‘everyone at home’, while judge Bruno Tonioli chipped in with tributes to the celebrities who take part in the show and make it so popular.

 

What did you think of the winners? Did your favourites pick up an award? In fact, were your favourites even nominated? Feel free to comment below or tweet me –@UKTVReviewer.

You can also see what’s coming up on TV in the coming week on this blog, published every Saturday at midnight.

This Week in TV – 18th – 24th January

Yes, it’s time to look forward to the next seven days in TV and, following on from a week that brought us the deaths of DI Poole, comedy legend Roger Lloyd-Pack and the innocence of Frank Carson’s dressing room, here’s what we have to look forward to.

Saturday 18th January

Splash!

ITV, 7:00pm

Reflex, Splash!, The Voice, Take Me Out? With these below-par Saturday night entertainment shows, Ambassador, you are spoiling us.'Splash!' - ITV, 7:00pm

Splash! belly-flops into its third week this week and it appears that the bottom of the barrel is well  and truly being scraped, as the biggest name to be taking to the diving board tonight is musician Paul Young. Wherever he lays his swimming cap, that’s his home.

Just so you know, I hate me for writing that, too.

Joining Paul and hoping to avoid the Splash-Off are: TOWIE star, Dan Osborne; north-eastern comedian, Patrick Monahan; model Danielle Lloyd; and MP Penny Mordaunt, who has caused a bit of a splash by taking part.

Apologies, but that pun was too good to miss. And it was better than the Paul Young one at least.

Also today: Animated favourite Despicable Me (ITV, 5:10pm); the aforementioned The Voice UK (BBC1, 7:00pm); and Goldie Hawn, Russell Brand, Dermot O’Leary and James Blunt chat to Jonathan Ross (ITV, 9:45pm).

Sunday 19th January

The Musketeers

BBC1, 9:00pm

This ten-part period drama, inspired by Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers, begins tonight.

Set in 17th-century Paris, The Musketeers follows Louis XIII’s personal bodyguards, Athos, Aramis'The Musketeers' - BBC1, 9:00pm and Porthos, who stand for social justice at a time when law and order is an unrealised concept. In this week’s opening episode, the Musketeers must try to rebuild the King’s reputation as well as strive to seek justice for themselves.

The series should also be noted for its stellar cast and crew. As well as being written by Adrian Hodges (the man behind Primeval and the multi-award-winning My Week With Marilyn), The Musketeers stars Tom Burke (The Hour), Santiago Cabrera (Merlin) and Howard Charles (Switch) in the eponymous roles, alongside Peter Capaldi (The Thick of It), Luke Pasqualino (Skins) and Hugo Speer (Father Brown).

Also today: Fake of Fortune? returns (BBC1, 6:00pm); all of the remaining celebs go head-to-head for the first time on Dancing on Ice (ITV, 6:15pm); gay men of Britain, listen up as Birds of a Feather’s Lesley Joseph and comedian Stephen K Amos compete on All Star Family Fortunes (ITV, 7:45pm); period dramas Call the Midwife (BBC1, 8:00pm) and Mr Selfridge (ITV, 9:00pm) are back; and one-off documentary Don’t Look Down (Channel 4, 9:00pm) explores the new craze of urban free-climbing.

Monday 20th January

Russia on Four Wheels 

BBC2, 9:00pm

In this two-part documentary, the conclusion of which is on Wednesday, Anita Rani and Justin Rowlatt take a three week-long trip across Russia in the hope of finding out how far the country has come in the 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall.'Russia on Four Wheels' - BBC2, 9:00pm

Both presenters begin their journeys in the home of this year’s Winter Olympics, Sochi, but then head in different directions as they explore contrasting areas of Russia. Anita will be heading north and west from Sochi, in order to discover ‘new’ Russia, which sees booming business and enthusiastic entrepreneurs. Justin, meanwhile, will be going east into ‘old’ Russia, where he visits factories and farms, finding that some areas have not changed since before the Cold War years.

To make things even more interesting, Anita and Justin are journeying in very different vehicles, with the former in a luxury armoured plated tank and the latter in a battered 1940s jeep. Watch tonight and on Wednesday to see how they get on.

Also today: The Alan Titchmarsh Show enters its 14th series (ITV, 3:00pm), with Mark Benton and Paul Hollywood being the first guests; Tom Dyckhoff (stop sniggering, please) presents The Great Interior Design Challenge (BBC2, 7:00pm); we bid a tearful farewell to Hayley in Coronation Street (ITV, 7:30 & 8:30pm); Food Unwrapped (Channel 4) and Winterwatch (BBC2) return at 8:30pm; much-trailed US sitcom Mom comes to ITV2 (9:00pm); and sci-fi thriller Helix begins (Channel 5, 10:00pm).

Tuesday 21st January

The Naked Rambler 

BBC1, 10:35pm

This one-off documentary focuses on the ever-controversial Stephen Gough, who is notorious for rambling around Scotland wearing only boots and a rucksack – something which sadly landed him in prison for seven years. He spent most of that time naked in solitary confinement.'The Naked Rambler' - BBC1, 10:35pm

Throughout the programme, we follow Stephen as he attempts a four month-long trek home to his family in Hampshire. His journey takes this long owing to the copious amounts of arrests, court appearances and prison stays that he has to deal with along the way.

We also gain an insight into Stephen’s motives for rambling naked, his family’s views and those of the public. The main question that I have is why does he insist on doing it, with his actions having landed him in prison numerous times, and therefore unable to see his teenage sons grow up? I guess that that question and many more will be answered during the programme.

Also today: Documentaries The Search for Alfred the Great (BBC2), Growing Up Down’s (BBC3) and Ross Kemp: Extreme World (Sky1), all at 9:00pm; and Claudia Winkleman is back with Film 2014 (BBC1, 10:35pm).

Wednesday 22nd January

The National Television Awards

ITV, 7:30pm'The National Television Awards' - ITV, 7:30pm

It’s that time of the year again when the cream of the crop of British television are awarded for their  efforts.

As per the last few years, Dermot O’Leary will oversee proceedings and tonight X Factor winner Sam Bailey will open the show. Voting closes at midday today (22nd January), so if you’re reading this before then and haven’t yet registered your vote, do so now here. Make it count, though: you only get one go.

Here are the nominees (with my choices in red) for each category:

Best Talent Show

The Voice UK

Dancing on Ice

The X Factor

Britain’s Got Talent

Strictly Come Dancing

Best Serial Drama

Coronation Street

Emmerdale

EastEnders

Hollyoaks

Best Comedy

Miranda

Mrs Brown’s Boys

Derek

The Big Bang Theory

Best Drama

Broadchurch

Downton Abbey

Call the Midwife

Doctor Who

Best TV Detective

Olivia Colman (Broadchurch)

David Tennant (Broadchurch)

Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock)

Idris Elba (Luther)

Bradley Walsh (Law & Order: UK)

Suranne Jones (Scott & Bailey)

Best Drama Performance

Martin Clunes (Doc Martin)

Miranda Hart (Call the Midwife)

Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey)

Matt Smith (Doctor Who)

Best Factual Entertainment Programme

The Great British Bake Off

An Idiot Abroad

Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs

Top Gear

Best Daytime Programme

This Morning

The Jeremy Kyle Show

Pointless

The Chase

Best Soap Newcomer

Marc Baylis (Coronation Street’s Rob Donovan)

Michelle Hardwick (Emmerdale’s Vanessa Woodfield)

Khali Best (EastEnders’ Dexter Hartman)

Anna Passey (Hollyoaks’ Sienna Blake)

Best Serial Drama Performance

Julie Hesmondhalgh (Coronation Street’s Hayley Cropper)

David Neilson (Coronation Street’s Roy Cropper)

Michelle Keegan (Coronation Street’s Tina McIntyre)

Jessie Wallace (EastEnders’ Kat Moon)

Best Documentary

Inside Death Row With Trevor McDonald

Paul O’Grady’s Working Britain

Penguins – Spy in the Huddle

Educating Yorkshire

Best Entertainment Presenter

Alan Carr

Keith Lemon

Ant & Dec

Graham Norton

Dermot O’Leary

Best Entertainment Programme

I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!

Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway

Celebrity Juice

The Graham Norton Show

 

I have to be honest, I’d have liked to have seen more digital TV channels get the nod (Mount Pleasant, Stella, Trollied, for example) but overall there are some brilliant nominees there. Tune in tonight to find out who’ll be picking up the awards!

Also today: Grammar Schools: A Secret History (BBC4, 8:00pm); Crimewatch (BBC1, 9:00pm); Embarrassing Bodies Down Under – presumably a reference to Australia, not which specific area of the bodies are embarrassing… (More 4, 10:00pm); and Seamus Heaney: Out of the Marvellous (BBC4, 11:00pm) – a tribute to the late poet, previously shown on RTÉ.

Thursday 23rd January

Benidorm 

ITV, 9:00pm

For its first two series, Benidorm was fantastic. It was the traditional 30 minutes in length and'Benidorm' - ITV, 9:00pm provided consistent laughs. And then each episode was made an hour-long in 2010, and it very much went downhill. It was dragged-out, ridiculous and boring. Thankfully, though, the fifth and current sixth series have marked a return to form for the show and it is once again bringing hilarity and sunshine to our cold, dark January evenings.

It also helps that new cast member Danny Walters (pictured) is quite easy on the eye.

This week, Joyce sets up a volleyball match at the Solana, Michael and Tiger are up to their old tricks again and Clive and Tonya try their hand at karaoke.

Also today: Restoration Home One Year On (BBC2, 8:00pm); Lorraine Pascale and Jason Atherton present new culinary series My Kitchen Rules (Sky Living, 9:00pm); and The Midnight Beast returns (E4, 10:00pm).

Friday 24th January

Stella 

Sky1, 9:00pm

Ruth Jones’s (or should I say Ruth Jones, MBE’s?) gentle comedy-drama about a single mother in the Welsh valleys is back for a third series.'Stella' - Sky1, 9:00pm

People always say that you’d never believe that Fletcher and Arkwright were both played by Ronnie  Barker. Or that Del Boy and Granville were both David Jason. May I just add to that, though, that if you saw them side-by-side, you’d never believe that Vanessa Shanessa Jenkins and Stella Morris were both played by Ruth Jones. She’s much more of a versatile actress than people give her credit for – and it’s for that reason that I’m overjoyed that she has been honoured with an MBE.

If you’ve never seen Stella before, let me fill you in: if focuses on the eponymous Welshwoman and the trials and tribulations that she encounters in her everyday life, usually influenced by her extended family and friends. In the past we’ve seen her deal with her son’s imprisonment and subsequent emigration with his father, her daughter’s pregnancy and marriage at just 18, the disappearance of her brother and the death of her beloved – but unintelligible – father, only for him to resurrect at the funeral.

Tonight, as we rejoin the Morrises, the Morgans and the Koshes, Stella is sporting a new hairdo and is putting all of her efforts into her nursing degree – but the arrival of a handsome and newly-single lawyer may distract her. Elsewhere, Aunty Brenda’s wayward daughter shows up, and Big Alan is told to put Little Alan on a diet.

Also today: Richard Osman, Roisin Conaty and Joan Bakewell try to put their pet hates into Room 101 (BBC1, 8:30pm); Beverley Callard gets a grilling on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories (ITV, 9:00pm); Dara Ó Briain and Sharon Horgan are on 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown (Channel 4, 9:00pm); there’s a compilation of the best bits of the most recent series of QI (BBC2, 10:00pm); and Graham Norton welcomes Keira Knightley, Kenneth Branagh, Katy B, Thierry Henry (yes, it rhymes) and Lee Mack onto his show at 10:35pm on BBC1.

If may be worth noting that some of your TV guides might say that the Celebrity Big Brother Final is on tonight on Channel 5. The series has been extended, and will now finish next Wednesday (29th January).

Are you particularly looking forward to any of these shows or is there something else from the world of TV which you want to have your say about? Feel free to comment below or tweet me –@UKTVReviewer.

Image credits: Splash! – Thanks to Matt Frost, ©ITV; The Musketeers – Thanks to Steve Neaves, ©BBC; Russia on Four Wheels – Thanks to BBC, ©Simon Phillips; The Naked Rambler – Thanks to BBC, ©Oblong Films; The National Television Awards – ©ITV; Benidorm – Thanks to ITV, ©Tiger Aspect; Stella – Thanks to Sky, ©www.andyshortphotography.co.uk.

This Week in TV – 11th – 17th January

Following on from a week that provided a triumphant return for Catherine Tate, a hugely enjoyable Life Stories thanks to Mary Berry and the best first week of Celebrity Big Brother for a long time, here’s what is in store for the next seven days.

Saturday 11th January

The Voice UK

BBC1, 7:00pm'The Voice UK' - BBC1, 7:00pm

Yes, everyone’s fifth favourite talent show is back for a third (and final?) series.

As I’m sure you’re aware, there are a few changes this year: Jessie J and Danny off of The Script have left to focus on their music (code for ‘have jumped ship before it sinks’), so Kylie Minogue (pictured) and Ricky off of the Kaiser Chiefs are sitting in their chairs, alongside regulars will.i.am and Tom Jones. He used to know Elvis, don’t you know.

The presenting team has altered somewhat in this series too. And by ‘somewhat’ I do of course mean ‘entirely’. Emma Willis has signed up as part of her quest for TV domination, and Marvin Humes is also on board. Well, it keeps him out of the dole queue.

Perhaps I should make it clear that I’m not a huge fan of The Voice. But I do like Kylie. And Emma Willis. So I might gave it another chance.

Also today: Dynamo: Magician Impossible comes to BBC1 (5:30pm); Shane Richie hosts new game show Reflex (BBC1, 6:15pm); Keith Duffy dons his budgie smugglers for Splash! (ITV, 7:00pm); new US series Hostages begins (Channel 4, 9:00pm); Torvill and Dean are on The Jonathan Ross Show (ITV, 9:45pm); and star-studded comedy film Burke and Hare premieres (BBC2, 10:15pm).

Sunday 12th January

Sherlock

BBC1, 8:30pm

Unsurprisingly, the new series of Sherlock has been as popular as ever, but it all ends for another year tonight, seemingly just two minutes since it came back. Worry not, though, Steven Moffat said last week that series four and five have already been planned out, so it seems that we’ve a few more'Sherlock' - BBC1, 8:30pm years’ worth of Conan-Doyle’s tales left to enjoy.

Tonight, in an episode entitled ‘The Last Vow’ (ooh, ominous), a case of stolen letters leads Sherlock to confront the one man he truly hates: Charles Augustus Magnussen. It’s certainly not going to be easy for him to get to the bottom of this one.

A Timeshift special, entitled ‘How to be Sherlock Holmes: Many Faces of a Master Detective’, follows on BBC4 at 10:00pm, taking a look back at the many actors who have taken on the role of the sleuth.

Also today: The next batch of ‘all stars’ enter the rink for Dancing on Ice (ITV, 6:15pm); Paul Potts and Ann Widdecombe lock horns on All Star Family Fortunes (ITV, 7:45pm); Simon Reeve explores the east African tea industry in This World (BBC2, 8:00pm); and a highlights package of the very best of thirty seven years of It’ll Be Alright on the Night (ITV, 9:00pm).

Monday 13th January

The Great Sport Relief Bake Off

BBC2, 8:30pm

The baps will be out and there’ll be soggy bottoms galore (but enough about Mazza Bezza) as a whole host of stars – and, unusually for a celebrity series, I do mean stars – enter the tent, roll up'The Great British Sport Relief Bake Off' - BBC2, 8:30pm their sleeves and get baking in aid of Sport Relief.

While Downton’s Samantha Bond, boxer Nicola Adams, actress Bonnie Wright and (the unrelated) Michael and Johnny Vaughan take part tonight, we can also look forward to seeing Jane Horrocks, Jason Gardiner, Michael Ball, Jamelia, Rochelle Humes and many more try their hands at baking this week.

Not only that, but over the next four nights we will also see a variety of presenters guide the competitors through their cake-based disasters: 50% of the regular team, Sue Perkins, will host the first episode, then we’ll have Jo Brand on Tuesday, Omid Djalili on Wednesday and Ed Byrne on Thursday. Don’t ask me why; we just do.

Also today: Dramatically-titled documentary series The Sheriffs Are Coming returns (BBC1, 11:00am); A Place in the Sun: Winter Sun is back (Channel 4, 2:10pm); Hannah White presents endurance series Go Hard or Go Home (Channel 5, 8:00pm); there’s a Fake Britain special (BBC1, 8:30pm); Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents is back, this time with the focus on Thailand (BBC3, 9:00pm); one-off documentary Dave: Loan Ranger (Channel 4, 10:00pm) sees entrepreneur Dave Fishwick help people who are in deep debt; Baby Faced Brides (Channel 5, 10:00pm) follows teenagers who are getting married; and Nick Helm’s likeable sitcom Uncle gets a full series on BBC3 (10:00pm), following its pilot on Channel 4 in 2012.

Tuesday 14th January

House of Fools

BBC2, 10:00pm

Set in Bob’s home, House of Fools is exactly what you’d expect of a Reeves and Mortimer sitcom: it’s disorganised, it’s surreal but, above all, it’s very funny. Well, it looks like it is anyway.

Yes, this new series is set in Bob Mortimer’s house – but you wouldn’t think it, as the place is'House of Fools' - BBC2, 10:00pm perpetually populated by a plethora of people (ok, I’ll stop with the alliteration) who it seems are uninvited and merely turn up in order to annoy poor Bob. People such as Vic, whose long-term stay in the house means that he has come to have a complete disregard for Bob’s wishes and has begun to treat the place like his own. Then there’s Erik – Bob’s Norwegian son (did I really have to tell you that this is a Reeves and Mortimer script?), Julie from next door, ladies’ man Beef, and ex-con Bosh. Together, they all comprise the titular House of Fools.

As well as starring Vic and Bob themselves, the series also features top comedy talent such as Daniel Simonsen, Matt Berry, Morgana Robinson and the much under-valued Dan Skinner.

Also today: Ben Miller bows out of Death in Paradise (BBC1, 9:00pm); wildlife documentaries Wild Brazil (BBC2, 9:00pm) and Paul O’Grady’s Animal Orphans (ITV, 9:00pm); Underage and Over the Limit focuses on underage drinkers in, surprise surprise, Sunderland (BBC3, 9:00pm); and Autopsy: The Last Hours of Whitney Houston is on Channel 5 at 10:00pm.

Wednesday 15th January

The Kumars

Sky1 HD, 9:00pm

Yes, after an eight year absence from our screens, Britain’s best-loved, and only, chat show family are back for a brand new series, this time on Sky.

So, what’s happened to the British-Asian family since we'The Kumars' - Sky1 HD, 9:00pm last saw them? Well, following a downturn in fortunes, the Kumars have had to move out of number 42 and are now living in a flat in Hounslow. Also, Sanjeev is divorced and Madhuri (Mum) has returned to India, meaning that the series has been made without Indira Joshi. Whether that was her choice or not we don’t know.

Other than that, things are pretty much as-was, and Sanjeev will continue to battle through his family squabbles and try to keep control of his chats. And what chats they’ll be as the recession may have hit the Kumars but the quality of their guests has not been compromised: Olivia Colman, Richard E Grant, Elizabeth McGovern, Daniel Radcliffe, Dame Diana Rigg and many, many more will drop in for a chat throughout the six weeks.

Also today: We find out who will follow in Evander Holyfield’s footsteps and be the next to leave Celebrity Big Brother (Channel 5, 9:00pm); British Comedy Award-winning Nina Conti hosts Live at the Apollo (BBC1, 9:30pm); and a Cutting Edge special takes a look at a new adoption scheme (Channel 4, 10:00pm).

Thursday 16th January

Birds of a Feather

ITV, 8:30pm

It was always going to fare quite well. Given that, at its peak, the series was drawing in 27 million viewers and ran for 102 episodes, Birds of a Feather was undeniably a hit in the nineties, and while'Birds of a Feather' - ITV, 8:30pm the return was met with some anger, confusion and more than a little indifference, it has been generally warmly received, giving ITV its biggest audience for a sitcom since Barbara (remember that?) almost fourteen years ago.

It does seem to me that Birds wouldn’t have been commissioned without the preceding BBC series. It is enjoyable, but mainly because we already know and love the characters, and are therefore likely to laugh at anything they say or do. It wouldn’t be able to hold its own against more contemporary series (Miranda and Mrs Brown’s Boys stand out in my mind) but it is enjoyable. Even just for Lesley Joseph.

Tonight, Garth and Marcie aren’t having any ‘together time’, so Tracey decides to move Sharon out of her room and onto the sofa. However, when this fails, Sharon takes to sleeping in the loft, where she may just find something to solve her sister’s financial problems.

Also today: Wildlife series Hidden Kingdoms begins (BBC1, 8:00pm); and the brilliantly acerbic Charlie Brooker has more Weekly Wipe (BBC2, 10:00pm).

Friday 17th January

Piers Morgan’s Life Stories

ITV, 9:00pm

We’ve already had two highly enjoyable Life Stories this series, thanks to June Brown and Mary Berry, and now it’s the turn of Men Behaving Badly star Neil Morrissey to take a grilling from Piers.'Piers Morgan's Life Stories' - ITV, 9:00pm

In this candid interview, Neil tells his side of the story for the first time about his infamous five week- long affair with Amanda Holden, who was married to Family Fortunes host Les Dennis at the time. He claims that the affair was inevitable and he never has apologised to Les, nor has any intention to. It may be worth noting that, while talking about the affair, Neil condemns Amanda for discussing the topic in her autobiography, published around the time that the programme was recorded. Pot. Kettle. Black.

The actor will also talk about going into care at the age of ten, his current marriage and his many encounters with the rich and famous. But not Amanda Holden. Because it would be wrong to talk about that so publicly, wouldn’t it Neil?

Also today: An Island Parish returns (BBC2, 8:30pm); Kathy Burke and Josh Widdicombe join in the literacy- and numeracy-based fun of 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown (Channel 4, 9:00pm); there’s another Celebrity Big Brother Eviction (Channel 5, 9:00pm); Susan Calman, Sandi Toksvig and Liza Tarbuck are on QI (BBC2, 10:00pm); there’s a repeat of Sarah Millican’s brilliant 2011 show, Chatterbox (Channel 4, 10:00pm); and Graham Norton welcomes Michael Fassbender, Lena Dunham, Idris Elba and Olivia Colman onto his sofa (BBC1, 10:35pm).

Are you particularly looking forward to any of these shows or is there something else from the world of TV which you want to have your say about? Feel free to comment below or tweet me –@UKTVReviewer.

Image credits: The Voice UK – Thanks to BBC and Guy Levy, ©Wall to Wall; Sherlock – Thanks to BBC and Robert Viglasky, ©Hartswood Films; The Great Sport Relief Bake Off – Thanks to BBC and Scott Kershaw, ©Sport Relief Ltd; House of Fools – Thanks to Pett Productions and Christopher Baines, ©BBC; The Kumars – ©Justin Downing for Sky 1 HD; Birds of a Feather – ©ITV/Retort/QuirkyMedia Stuff; Piers Morgan’s Life Stories – Thanks to Kieron McCarron, ©ITV.

‘Nan’ (BBC1) Review

Usually sketch show characters, no matter how loved, aren’t given a chance to break free from the shackles of their five minute skits and be explored and enjoyed in their own sitcoms. Of course, there are exceptions: Mr Khan (Citizen Khan, originally Bellamy’s People), Edina and Saffy Monsoon (Ab Fab, formerly French and Saunders) and Lee and Tim from Not Going Out, who started out as characters in an insignificant segment on The Sketch Show. All of these sitcoms have gone on to do extremely well (yes, I am including Citizen Khan in that statement), and there’s the possibility  that Catherine Tate’s Nan could do the same, as she has taken the much-loved, foul-mouthed Joannie Taylor from her eponymous sketch show and created a thirty-minute, one-off sitcom of which she’s the star.

As you may remember, we have previously seen Nan outside of The Catherine Tate Show and charity sketches in Nan’s Christmas Carol – Tate’s 2009 reworking of the Dickensian tale. Even at fifty minutes, this special (starring a host of comedy talent) was a real treat – as was tonight’s episode, which saw the 75 year old cause mayhem at the council offices, mistreat a poor hospital patient and host a wedding party for her neighbours.

I was slightly worried about Nan – Catherine Tate’s horribly awkward appearance on The One Show a few weeks ago suggested that she may have decided to stop being funny altogether. Plus, Mirror columnist Ian Hyland tweeted before the episode, ‘I’d love to be able to tell you Catherine Tate’s Nan on BBC1 tonight is hilarious from start to finish. But.’ So it wasn’t looking too good. Thankfully, though, I didn’t agree with Ian – despite there being the odd gag lifted from the original  Nan sketches and a few risky jokes about race and religion, it certainly seemed to me to be thirty five minutes of non-stop laughs. The golden ingredient – the character’s trademark acidity – was present right from the off and persisted throughout, creating the moments of caustic joy that made the character and her scenes such a hit in the first place.

What a treat it was to see rising star Ami Metcalf as Alice (pictured), the teenager who was paired with Nan as part of a ‘Young and Old Buddy-Up Foundation’ scheme. As she had previously proved in Walking and Talking and The Mimic, Ami is a fantastic comic actress and, although she was inevitably in the shadow of Catherine Tate, she did shine as Alice – particularly in the final scenes. Her sweet, humble character acted as the perfect antidote to Nan’s vitriol, and I hope that this – her most mainstream comedy role – has helped introduce her to a lot more people.

So, I loved Nan, it being the perfect follow-up to The Catherine Tate Show. Could it sustain a series? I’m not sure. As I said, some repeated jokes did slip through and there was nothing terribly original about it – which is not a criticism when judging it as a one-off, but for a six-part series or even a Christmas special, Catherine and her co-writers may have to brainstorm a few more ideas for the nation’s favourite foul-mouthed septuagenarian.

Image credits: Thanks to BBC, ©Tiger Aspect

Catherine Tate’s Nan is available for a limited time on BBC iPlayer

What did you think of Nan? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Please comment below or tweet me – @UKTVReviewer.

You can also see what’s coming up on TV in the coming week on this blog, published every Saturday at midnight.

This Week in TV – 4th – 10th January

Happy new year! Let old acquaintance be forgot, etc.

Right, now down to the matter in hand. I hope you all enjoyed your Christmas telly! Last Tango in Halifax and Downton Abbey were particular highlights for me. In fact, I must have been full of Christmas spirit as I actually found myself laughing at Vicious. Out loud, too! Please don’t think bad of me.

Thankfully the people behind the programmes haven’t rested on their laurels in the new year and are instead treating us to some fantastic returning shows. Oh, and Splash!. So, let’s get started, shall we?

Saturday 4th January

Nan

BBC1, 9:30pm

Forget your Ted and Ralphs and your Lou and Andys, I think that the greatest British sketch show character of all time is Catherine Tate’s foul-mouthed Joannie ‘Nan’ Taylor.'Nan' - BBC1, 9:30pm

Having become the star of many charity specials (most recently last year’s Children in Need Holby  City sketch) and her own take on a Dickensian tale (2009’s Nan’s Christmas Carol), it’s quite safe to say that Nan was the stand-out character in The Catherine Tate Show, so it’s little surprise that the comedienne has brought her back for – a disappointingly short – thirty five minute special.

As we rejoin Nan, there have been a few changes in her life: her put-upon grandson Jamie is having to communicate via Skype, as he’s doing charity work in Africa (as actor Mathew Horne was busy during filming), so a young girl named Alice has been allocated to Nan as part of a ‘Young and Old Buddy-Up Foundation’ scheme in order to keep the pensioner in good spirits. Unfortunately that’s where the changes end, as, as you can imagine, Alice does not manage to perk Nan up. Over the course of the episode we see her causing a stir at the local council offices, disturbing the peace in a hospital and interfering in her new neighbours’ weddings plans.

I bet she’s still more cheerful than Catherine Tate was on The One Show though, eh?

Also today: An education special of Pointless Celebrities (BBC1, 7:00pm); huge A-list stars such as Paul Ross and Ricky Groves take part in the new series of Splash! (ITV, 7:20pm); The Making of David Attenborough’s Natural History Museum (Sky1 HD, 7:35pm) goes behind the scenes of the broadcaster’s latest documentary; The National Lottery: Who Dares Wins (BBC1, 7:50pm) and Take Me Out (ITV, 8:50pm) are back; BBC2 has a Dave Allen Night from 9:00pm; Jennifer Saunders, Jamie Cullum and Paddy McGuinness are on The Jonathan Ross Show (ITV, 9:50pm); Little Fockers premieres on TV (10:25pm, BBC1); and Celebrity Big Brother’s Bit on the Psych returns (Channel 5, 11:00pm).

Sunday 5th January

Dancing on Ice

ITV, 6:15pm

Just as the theme tune to Heartbeat used to, the opening credits of Dancing on Ice reminds a nation of young people that they have school the next day. That’s certainly the effect it used to have on me,'Dancing on Ice' - ITV, 6:15pm anyway! Soon though that will all change as tonight marks the beginning of the end for Dancing on Ice.

For the past eight years we have joined Phillip, Holly/Christine, Torvill & Dean and the ever-changing judging panel to watch as a myriad of reality TV stars, soap actors and Loose Women risked serious injury by stumbling out onto the ice and performing for the nation but in just ten weeks’ time it will all be over, as Jayne and Chris and ITV have mutually agreed to end the series now, thirty years after the pair won gold for their Bolero at the Sarajevo Olympics.

As has been widely reported, this year sees the cream of the crop – and Todd Carty and Joe Pasquale – return to the ice in the hope of being crowned champion of champions. Competing are: Beth Tweddle, Bonnie Langford, David Seaman, Gareth Gates, Gary Lucy, Hayley Tamaddon, Jorgie Porter, Kryan Bracken, Ray Quinn, Sam Attwater, Suzanne Shaw and Zaraah Abrahams, as well as the aforementioned Todd and Joe.

Should be an exciting ten weeks!

Also today: Nicky Campbell hosts a new series of The Big Questions (BBC1, 10:00am); one-off fly-on-the-wall documentary Shipping Wars is on Channel 4 at 7:00pm; Kimberley Walsh and Wayne Sleep take part in All Star Family Fortunes (ITV, 7:45pm); the new series of Sherlock continues (BBC1, 8:30pm); Operation Grand Canyon with Dan Snow (BBC2, 9:00pm) sees the presenter try to recreate John Wesley Powell’s 1869 journey around the Grand Canyon; Griff Rhys Jones presents another It’ll Be Alright on the Night (ITV, 9:00pm); 2011 film Bad Teacher premieres (Channel 4, 9:00pm); and The Magaluf Weekender returns (ITV2, 9:00pm).

Monday 6th January

The 7.39

BBC1, 9:00pm

New star-studded drama series The 7.39 encapsulates the monotony of the daily morning commute'The 7.39' - BBC1, 9:00pm to work, but also shows how these boring journeys can lead to something life-changing.

The series focuses on Carl (David Morrissey) and Sally (Sheridan Smith), who have an argument one Monday morning over a seat on the train. Things do improve between them, though, as they begin to chat and a bond grows between them. It soon becomes apparent to the pair of them, however, that their feelings for each other are deeper than just friendship.

The problem is, with Carl happily married to Maggie (Olivia Colman) and Sally engaged to the enthusiastic and devoted Ryan (Sean Maguire), will they find it within themselves to confess their feelings to each other, and risk everything they have?

Concludes tomorrow.

Also today: New series of Wanted Down Under (BBC1, 9:15am), Rip Off Britain (BBC1, 11:00am), Real Lives Reunited (BBC1, 11:45am), Loose Women (ITV, 12:30pm), A Place in the Sun (Channel 4, 2:10pm), Father Brown (BBC1, 2:15pm), Britain’s Best Bakery (ITV, 4:00pm), Great British Railway Journeys (BBC2, 6:30pm) and Inside Out (BBC1, 7:30pm); A Great British Adventure with Griff Rhys Jones begins (ITV, 8:00pm); there’s a Food Unwrapped Diet Special (Channel 4, 8:00pm); The Bletchley Circle is back (ITV, 9:00pm); infuriating documentary Benefits Street begins (Channel 4, 9:00pm); Jake Hanrahan presents The Truth About Skunk (BBC3, 9:00pm); Secrets of the Living Dolls (Channel 4, 10:00pm) and Secrets of the Sales (BBC1, 10:35pm) are revealed; and I Shot 2013 (ITV, 10:35pm) reflects on some of last year’s biggest news stories, told through the images that members of the public captured with their cameras.

Tuesday 7th January

Weight Loss Ward

ITV, 8:00pm

I love living in, and am very proud to be from, Sunderland. I think that it’s a brilliantly diverse city'Weight Loss Ward' - ITV, 8:00pm which is often cast in Newcastle’s shadow. It’s just a shame that TV executives don’t regard it as  favourably, because instead of having documentaries set here which show us in a good light, we get Geordie Shore. Secret Millionaire. And Weight Loss Ward – a programme following the work of doctors in ‘one of the busiest NHS obesity units in the UK’. So Sunderland is home to perpetual ‘sessioners’, people desperate for charity and the morbidly obese. Hooray for us, eh?

As well as meeting new patients, the series also catches up with some of those who appeared on the programme in 2012, such as Terry, from Hetton le Hole,  and who when we last saw him had ballooned to 47 stone. Having previously fallen out of love with each other, Terry and his wife are now back together, and he is on a quest to lose weight once again.

Will Terry be able to do it for the sake of his children?

Also today: The return of River Monsters (ITV, 7:30pm), Stargazing Live (BBC2, 8:00pm), Location, Location, Location (Channel 4, 8:00pm), and Gibralta: Britain in the Sun (Channel 5, 8:00pm); The Lying Game: Crimes That Fooled Britain (ITV, 9:00pm) investigates the criminals who used crocodile tears to deceive the nation; Nigella’s new series The Taste comes to the UK (Channel 4, 9:00pm); God’s Cadets: Joining the Salvation Army (BBC4, 9:00pm) follows new recruits as they are put through their paces; Nick Robinson presents The Truth About Immigration (BBC2, 9:30pm); and Secrets of the Body Clock with Terry Wogan (BBC1,10:35pm) is…well…is exactly what it sounds like.

Wednesday 8th January

This is Jinsy

Sky Atlantic, 10:00pm

The surreal sitcom about a group of oddballs who live an Orwellian existence of constant surveillance'This is Jinsy' - Sky Atlantic, 10:00pm on the island of Jinsy returns for a second series.

The series is notable for its guest stars, and over the next eight weeks we can look forward to seeing Eileen Atkins, Derek Jacobi, Olivia Colman, Rob Brydon, Stephen Mangan, Olivia Colman, Ben Miller and Greg Davies – to name just a few. Starring in tonight’s episode is Stephen Fry, who plays ‘wig keeper’ Dr Bevelspepp.

Also today: Bigger Big Body Squad (Channel 5, 8:00pm); Ashley Banjo’s Big Town Dance (Sky1 HD, 8:00pm); Waterloo Road (BBC1, 8:30pm) and 24 Hours in A&E (Channel 4, 9:00pm) return; the first housemate gets the boot from Celebrity Big Brother (Channel 5, 9:00pm); Jack Whitehall hosts a postponed Live at the Apollo (BBC1, 9:30pm); Fergal Keane presents The Hidden World of Britain’s Immigrants (BBC2, 9:30pm); Hurricanes and Heatwaves: The Highs and Lows of British Weather (BBC4, 9:30pm) takes a look at the journey of the weather forecast; and Hens Behaving Badly is back for a second series (Channel 5, 10:30pm).

Thursday 9th January

The Undateables

Channel 4, 9:00pm

Well this is unfortunate. Having said all that about Sunderland being badly represented in'The Undateables' - Channel 4, 9:00pm documentaries, I come to The Undateables – the brilliant last series of which featured Steve, a shelf- stacker in Asda, Sunderland. Unfortunately he didn’t manage to find love during the programme, but we will be catching up with him in the next few weeks to find out how he’s got on.

The Undateables is quite a controversial series. For some reason, people think that the participants are being singled out for their disabilities, but anyone who has seen the series will know that that is not what happens. It’s just a documentary about dating – but featuring people who often find it difficult to get dates.

Looking for love in this series are: Mary, who has dwarfism; Daniel, who is autistic; Hayley, who has Apert Syndrome; Ruth, who has Tourette’s; John, who has Asperger’s; and Zoe, who has Mosaic Down Syndrome.

Also today: Supersize vs Superskinny (Channel 4, 8:00pm); World’s Worst Holiday Horrors (Channel 5, 8:00pm); Tough Young Teachers (BBC3, 9:00pm) follows graduates taking their first jobs in tough London schools; Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe (BBC2) and Botched Up Bodies return at 10:00pm; documentary series What Happens in Sunny Beach (Channel 4, 10:00pm); and Nick Grimshaw reveals this year’s BRIT Awards nominees in The BRITs Are Coming (ITV, 10:35pm).

Friday 6th January

Piers Morgan’s Life Stories

ITV, 9:00pm

In last week’s Life Stories, Piers interviewed EastEnders legend June Brown – whose autobiography came out last year.'Piers Morgan's Life Stories' - ITV, 9:00pm

This week, he’s interviewing Mary Berry – whose autobiography came out last year.

Does anyone else see a pattern developing here?

Not to worry, though: June Brown’s interview was quite enjoyable last week and Mary’s is sure to be this week as she opens up about her experience with Polio as a child, as well as her son’s death at the age of 19. She will also discuss, of course, her new-found fame as star of The Great British Bake Off.

Also today: Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast (Channel 4, 8:00pm); Andrew Graham-Dixon and Giorgio Locatelli present a new series of Italy Unpacked (BBC2, 9:00pm); there’s another Celebrity Big Brother Eviction (Channel 5, 9:00pm); Sue Perkins, Jimmy Carr and Reginald D Hunter are on QI (BBC2, 10:00pm); Graham Norton has an all-star line-up in the form of Robert De Niro, Carey Mulligan, Sylvester Stallone and Jonah Hill; and Russell Kane introduces a new series of Live at the Electric (BBC3, 11:45pm).

Are you particularly looking forward to any of these shows or is there something else from the world of TV which you want to have your say about? Feel free to comment below or tweet me –@UKTVReviewer.

Image credits: Nan – Thanks to BBC, ©Tiger Aspect; Dancing on Ice – Thanks to Nicky Johnston, ©ITV; The 7.39 – Thanks to BBC and Giles Keyte, ©Carnival Films; Weight Loss Ward – Thanks to Shiver Productions, ©ITV; This is Jinsy – ©Des Willie; The Undateables – Thanks to Channel 4 and Ray Burmiston; Piers Morgan’s Life Stories – Thanks to Kieron McCarron, ©ITV

‘Birds of a Feather’ (ITV) Review

‘What’ll I do when you are far away and I am blue, what’ll I do?’

Ah, I have no qualms about admitting that when I heard Linda Robson sing those words and saw the familiar childhood pictures of herself and Pauline Quirke fade in and out, a broad grin grew on my face. I wasn’t even born when Birds of a Feather premiered in 1989. In fact I was only two when the original series came to an end but still Irving Berlin’s classic stirred up feelings of nostalgia. There was quite a sense of occasion and expectation surrounding the return of Birds, with it having been long-awaited and much-hyped by its stars and the press. The question is, was all of the hype worth it?

To be honest, it seems a bit too early to tell. I know, I know. Saying it’s ‘too early to tell’ might seem like a total cop-out but I genuinely think that what we saw in that opening episode is not the best that writers Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran have to offer. In fact, the renowned duo’s script seemed to be suffering from a touch of First Episode Syndrome, which sees writers temporarily putting jokes on the back burner in order to establish characters and situations – something which may be less necessary in a revived series but is still quite important. If they’d trusted viewers to dive straight back into Sharon, Tracy and Dorien’s adventures in Chigwell, not only would they have had a rather messy episode on their hands but they’d have been neglecting any possible new, younger viewers who missed the series first time around and aren’t avid viewers of the Drama channel!

As we rejoined the Birds fifteen years after we left them, Sharon and Tracy had fallen out, Dorien was a world-renowned author of erotic fiction (though sadly no longer with “Pussy Golightly” as her protagonist) and Tracy’s son Travis (last seen born in a barn in the 1998 Christmas special) is now  seventeen years of age. There was also no sign of Sharon and Tracy’s criminal husbands Daryl and Chris, and Matt Willis had wisely replaced the rather wooden Matthew Savage as Garth. Other than that, nothing had changed, and by the end of the episode, everyone was reunited in Tracy’s house – with Garth also bringing back his girlfriend and her daughter from Australia with him.

The jokes were admittedly quite thin on the ground – a couple of innuendos and a few moments of banter between Sharon and Dorien were all that really stood out – but I do think that now that the characters have bedded in again and the writers have the first episode out of the way, the hit rate of gags will improve. The truth is, as the return of an old classic it worked reasonably well – it certainly proved popular in the Twittersphere with viewers both old and new – but had it been a brand new, fledgling (thank you!) programme, people would likely not have bothered to tune in. There was, however, an undeniable warmth and familiarity about seeing Sharon, Tracy and Dorien back.

Contrary to what many critics predicted (and probably wanted), it appears that birds of a feather have not flopped together.

Birds of a Feather is on Thursdays at 8:30pm on ITV

What did you think of the return of Birds? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Please comment below or tweet me – @UKTVReviewer.

You can also see what’s coming up on TV in the coming week on this blog, published every Saturday at midnight.